It appears that the Richmond Council has finally found some money and are going to push St Stephens CE Junior School and Orleans Infants School to renovate their buildings and become primary schools, each with two form entry with 60 children per year. School governors rejected plans two years ago, when the Council fell short on the funds required to properly convert St Stephens have both agreed ‘in principle’ to convert the schools in time for the 2012/13 school year. This will be a big change for pupils, but should help relieve some of the overcrowding.

What do you think of the plans?

13 October 2011

Dear parent/carer,

Provision of primary school places in St Margarets and Twickenham

Between 2000 and 2007, the number of births in Richmond Borough rose by 21, from 2,384 to 2,884, and has since (by the end of 2010) risen by a further 4.5, to 2,992. Richmond Borough’s primary schools have been top of the national Key Stage 2 league tables throughout that period. As a result, since the 2004/2005 school year, when there was a considerable amount of spare capacity, demand for places in reception has increased by almost 500 children; with a large leap in numbers in 2007/2008, and which, further exacerbated by the economic downturn, has increased in all subsequent years.

Within St Margarets and central and east Twickenham, the birth­rate rose by 47% between 2002 and 2007 and there has been high demand for state­school places as a result. The local authority has asked Orleans Infant and Nursery School to accommodate an additional Reception class in each of the last three years, and St Mary’s Church of England Primary School and The Vineyard Primary School to do likewise in two of those years. Without those extra classes, many children in the local area would have been offered school places a considerable distance outside the local area. It has already been agreed that St Mary’s will admit 90 children per year from September 2012 onwards, but there is a need for a seventh Reception class to be provided in the area each year on a permanent basis.

As you may be aware, the governing bodies of both Orleans Infant and St Stephen’s Church of England Junior School have been working with the local authority, and the London Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS), to find a permanent solution to the school place planning difficulties in the area. It has been proposed that both schools should consider converting from three­form entry infant and junior schools into all­through two­form entry primary schools, i.e. for each school to admit 60 children each year rather than the current 90 and for both schools to have 60 children in all year­groups from reception to Year 6. Following recent meetings, our respective governing bodies have agreed in principle to implement those conversion proposals from September 2012, subject to consultation and the requisite approvals, as discussed below.

The local authority has confirmed that there is sufficient money in place to fund the conversions. Both governing bodies and the LDBS recognise the need for more places within the local community, and for a third Reception entry point (at Stephen’s), and therefore believe that achieving this permanent solution would be appropriate, subject to the detailed building design.

We know that many parents value the outstanding education provided at our schools. In converting to two-­form entry primary schools, we would do our utmost to ensure that our distinctive qualities are preserved within the design of the new buildings that would be required, and that the close working between the two schools would continue. Work on the design would be a collaborative effort between the governing bodies, the architects and the local authority (and LDBS for St Stephen’s), and parents would be consulted at all stages so that your ideas can be considered and, as appropriate, incorporated into the schemes.

The plans are that, as per the chart at the bottom of this letter, both schools would admit 60 children into Reception in 2012/2013. (The St Stephen’s Reception children would be accommodated in Amyand House in the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years in order to allow space for the building work to be undertaken at St Stephen’s.) By September 2015, both schools would have 60 children in all seven year­ groups from Reception to Year 6.

These plans are also contingent upon up to 60 of the current Year 2 at Orleans Infant staying at the school in Year 3 in September 2012 and up to 60 moving to St Stephen’s. There will be a meeting at Orleans Infant at 7pm on Tuesday 1 st November for current Year 2 parents at which the application process, which would be coordinated by the local authority, will be explained.

The current Year 1 children would follow that pattern for Year 3 in September 2013 and the current Reception children would follow suit in September 2014. Meetings for parents of those children will be held in October 2012 and October 2013 respectively.

These plans are subject to full consultation with parents and other local people, and the granting of planning permission. In due course, the local authority will issue statutory proposals on behalf of our governing bodies, with a four­week period in which you can, if you wish, formally express your views in writing, so that the local authority’s Cabinet (acting as ‘local decision­maker’) will be able to consider your views before they decide whether or not to approve the proposals.

As the first step in the process, though, we have arranged a joint consultation meeting on 8 November, at which representatives of the local authority and, in St Stephen’s case, the LDBS, will present the strategic case for expansion and be able to answer any questions that you may have regarding the principles and practicalities of expansion. The dates and times of the meetings are as follows:

  • Orleans Infant and Nursery, Tuesday 1 November, 7pm, school hall; for parents of Year 2 children only, to explain the coordinated admission process for Year 3;
  • Clarendon Hall, York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham, Tuesday 8 November, 7pm, to explain the conversion proposals and hear your views.

We look forward to seeing you and hearing your views, which are important to us and will help inform our final decisions.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Evans Headteacher Orleans Infant & Nursery

Elizabeth Stubbs Headteacher St Stephen’s CE Junior

Table of school places in plan